Liverpool can score with anybody, but its back line is leaking goals at an unsustainable pace.

By 90Min
September 22, 2017

The state of affairs at Liverpool is a strange one. Their mercurial attack can be irresistible on their day - arguably the best front line in the Premier League, rivalling even the best in the world when on top form. 

It's no secret that Liverpool have the capacity to put several goals past the opposition, but when that becomes an absolute necessity in order to secure a win, it's a telltale sign something is amiss somewhere in the lineup.

Only a fool builds his house on sand and, no matter how inexorable Liverpool can be up front, they simply remain incapable when the tables are turned. 

Far too often have Reds fans seen their side completely bully their opposition in the final third, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah terrorising defences with their frankly frightening pace, only for them to fail to capitalise on their dominance and collapse when they are put under similar pressure.

Nine games into the new season, the Reds have conceded 16 goals in all competitions, successfully shutting their opposition out only twice. For a team that is supposedly set to challenge for the Premier League title this year, that record is appalling.

In the league, as it stands, Liverpool are on course to concede 68 goals this season, 1.8 goals per game. Contrast that against the title winning side of Chelsea in 2016/17 and they conceded just 33 over the course of their entire league campaign, 0.9 goals per game.

Looking at the figures and understanding that for months over the course of the summer Liverpool were given every opportunity to recruit a defensive enforcer makes the Reds' defensive record even more galling.

For months it was insisted upon that Liverpool were pursuing a 'world-class' defender in Virgil van Dijk for a record fee and yet they came away empty handed, without tabling so much as a single bid.

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And given Jurgen Klopp's unwillingness to look at alternate targets you'd be forgiven for believing van Dijk is the only defender that'd improve the Liverpool defence. However, the sad truth is there's an abundance of defenders that would improve such a dismal back line.

It is quite telling that Liverpool's first-choice back four often consists of Alberto Moreno, a left back who couldn't get near the starting XI last year, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez, two right backs with limited experience who are yet to mature into seasoned defenders, and Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan, two centre backs that give fans heart palpitations whenever the ball comes within 10 feet of them.

It's no secret Klopp wants the very best defenders for his side, but to suggest there aren't five centre-backs beyond van Dijk who could improve the Liverpool back line is far too complimentary to their current roster and even more insulting to almost every other defender in Europe's top leagues.

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Without thinking, it's far from a tough ask to name five other centre-backs who would be a valuable addition. Aymeric Laporte, Kalidou Koulibaly, Stefan de Vrij, Kostas Manolas and Dayot Upamecano all would be attainable and moreover, a drastic improvement on what Lovren and Klavan have to offer.

Liverpool's recent outings have shown they are far from assured at the back and thus, still lacking what it takes to challenge for silverware at the highest level.

With no mitigating circumstances to fall back on, Liverpool's threadbare, lacklustre defence has been their downfall since the departure of Rafael Benitez, and it looks as though it will continue to be the Achilles heel of the Reds until a new enforcer is brought through the door at Anfield.

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